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  • Writer's pictureMarc Lalonde

Weight training: where to begin

Find out who, exactly, doesn’t know squat about exercising

Most people have no idea where to begin exercising, and the world of fitness is a big business, whose entre business model is based on you not having any idea where to begin when first going to a gym. I know that a lot of people can be and are intimidated by some of the seasoned pros who seem to know exactly how to do everything and for how long to do it.

Many new exercisers, faced with this paralysis by analysis hop on an elliptical trainer and start going for an often-undetermined amount of time, stopping when they are bored and wander off to stare at some more things.

Consider this your personal trainer in a bottle, except there’s no bottle. And I don’t know if it’s a good idea to ever try to stuff a personal trainer into a bottle. OK. Bad turn of phrase. Throughout the week, I’m going to introduce exercises that first-time exercisers need to seriously consider incorporating into their introductory exercise habits.

Consider this weight training 101, with our first exercise coming on the way today.


A good friend who has been a mentor to me once used my new favourite expression about squats and exercise.

“Those who don’t put squats in their exercise routine don’t know squat about exercise,” he said.

He was right.

The squat is a great multi-joint exercise (meaning it burns more calories than a bicep curl or a triceps extension, which are one-joint exercises) that is also part of natural human body movements. Watch a toddler get down on the ground to look at something: they squat down and look at it, rather than bend over, as an adult might. They do it without even thinking, making it a natural movement pattern. In a great squat the exerciser will keep heels down, their shoulders pulled back showing a proud chest.

Bending their knees and tilting their pelvis back, the exerciser will allow their torso to come slightly forward while remaining upright through the shoulders. Resistance should come in the form of a dumbbell held under the chin with two hands like a goblet. Don’t think you have to throw weight on your back just to get a good leg workout. Also, don’t substitute leg press for squats; they are a great complimentary exercise. Just once, I would love to watch a new male exerciser walk into the gym, and instead of sitting down to do alternating dumbbell bicep curls, they walk over and start doing squats.

Sadly, I have yet to see that happen – yet.

Maybe my screed will change a few minds.

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